In our blog we will try and give updates on the law and cases throughout New Hampshire, as well as interesting events that occur throughout the country.
How Does a DWI Charge Become “Aggravated”?
In the state of New Hampshire, DWI charges are not always prosecuted as misdemeanors. In particular sets of circumstances, an NH motorist may be charged with aggravated DWI. What exactly qualifies as an aggravated DWI? As dictated by New Hampshire State Statute § 265-A3, there are four specific scenarios in which aggravated DWI charges can be applied.
First and foremost, if an intoxicated motorist is driving more than 30 miles over the speed limit, an aggravated DWI charge may be applied. This charge often results when a law enforcement official pulls on motorist over for speeding. If the officer suspects that the motorist is intoxicated, he/she will request that the motorist submit to a battery of field sobriety tests. NH motorists who fail these tests will be arrested.
In the second scenario, an aggravated DWI charge can be applied if an intoxicated motorist is responsible for causing an accident that result in great bodily injury to another. According to New Hampshire state statutes, an aggravated DWI charge in this circumstance is different from vehicular manslaughter. Vehicular manslaughter charges are applied only if the accident results in the death of another.
In the third scenario, an NH motorist will be charged with an aggravated DWI offense if they attempt to flee the scene of an accident or elude law enforcement. For example, if a police officer suspects that a motorist is driving while intoxicated and signals the motorist to pull off to the side of the road, but the motorist attempts to flee, upon apprehension, the motorist can be charged with an aggravated DWI offense.
In the last scenario, aggravated DWI charges can result if an intoxicated motorist is discovered to have a passenger in the car that is under the age of 16. In the past, some NH motorists have been charged with aggravated DWI if their blood alcohol content exceeded .16%, which is double the legal limit.
Depending upon the particular circumstances surrounding the arrest and the discretion of the prosecutor, an aggravated DWI charge may be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. If the charge is prosecuted as a class A misdemeanor, the defendant faces a minimum monetary fine of $750, as well as a minimum imprisonment term of 17 days in the county jail. Additional penalties, such as suspension of one’s license or the mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, may also be imposed. If the aggravated DWI charge is prosecuted as a class B felony, then the minimum imprisonment term is extended to 35 days, and the minimum monetary fine that must be paid is raised to $1000.
In most instances, our experienced NH DWI lawyers can have aggravated DWI charges reduced to standard DWI charges or reckless driving charges. It may be possible to even have your charges dismissed altogether. For a better understanding of the charges you face and to learn what types of defense strategies are available for you, please contact us for a free consultation today!